By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day
This is California Quail week at Naked Capitalism. Grab another cup of coffee, because here we have six minutes of quail goodness.
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson
The story so nice they printed it twice:
The Times can only have one outside copy editor, Karen https://t.co/BkEwae0E1J
— Typos of the New York Times (@nyttypos) April 5, 2022
(I like @nyttypos a lot; subscribe if you want to watch the Times deteriorate,)
“EXCLUSIVE: Whistleblower who handed Hunter’s abandoned laptop to congressmen and DailyMail.com has fled to Switzerland fearing retaliation from Biden Administration – and reveals he has 450 gigabytes of DELETED material including 80,000 images and videos” [Daily Mail]. Hoo boy. “The source who distributed Hunter Biden’s laptop to congressmen and media has fled the US to Switzerland, saying he fears retaliation from the Biden administration. .” Well, I guess my question about how the Daily Mail did its forensics is answered. More: “For the past two weeks, Maxey has been in hiding in Zurich, working with IT experts to dig out more data from the ‘laptop from hell’. Maxey, a former co-host of ex-Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon’s podcast the War Room, claims he and his colleagues have found ‘450 gigabytes of deleted material’ including 80,000 images and videos and more than 120,000 archived emails. He said he intends to post them all online in a searchable database in the coming weeks.” • Note, however, that this is not the repair guy in whose shop Hunter Biden — dear Hunter! — abandoned the laptop. So I’m not clear on the provenance of any of this. From the Mail: “Hunter abandoned his laptop at a Delaware computer store in 2019. The owner, John Mac Isaac, gave a copy to Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who passed it on to Maxey.” So Isaac to Giuliiani to Maxey… Not the cleanest chain of custody.
“GOP laying early plans for its own Hunter Biden probes” [Politico]. “Democrats are preemptively smacking down the Republican revival of Hunter Biden’s affairs. In private, they tend to seethe at what they see as GOP hypocrisy for trying to weaponize Biden’s son when Trump repeatedly blurred lines between his business, family members and the government he ran for four years.” • I don’t think that argument is as powerful as Democrats seem to think it is. The mind reels at the thought of Harris in the Oval Office…. What on earth was California’s oligarchy thinking?
“This Hunter Biden deal in a foreign country really does look bad” [MSNBC (!)]. “Hunter Biden’s contract with CEFC is questionable not only because of the large sums involved in return for services that he appears ill-suited to provide, but also because of the characters it brought him in contact with. Citing what it calls “verified emails from a purported copy of the laptop hard drive reviewed by the outside experts for The Post,” the newspaper determined that in 2015, while his father was vice president, Hunter Biden was contacted by an intermediary looking to arrange a meeting between him and Ye Jianming, the chairman of CEFC. Ye had been the deputy secretary of the China Association for International Friendly Contact, which a 2011 U.S. congressional report called “a front” for the People’s Liberation Army. CEFC may claim it’s a “private” company, but when it comes to major Chinese entities, there’s no such thing as private and no way to politely decline the strong arm of the Chinese intelligence services.” • So, how many copies of Hunter’s laptop data are running around, anyhow?
“Kyle Rittenhouse Weighs In on Hunter Biden for the First Time” [Newsweek]. • Don’t do this, Kyle.
“Democrats’ dilemma: Back Biden’s Pentagon budget or supersize it” [Politico]. “Debate is heating up on Capitol Hill on funding the military, and Democrats are facing a dilemma — back President Joe Biden’s historically high Pentagon budget or spend even more. It’s a major turnaround for a party that just two years ago was expected to restrain defense spending after budgets soared during the Trump years. Yet the new reality, spurred on by high inflation and a raging land war in Europe, means that Democrats for the second year in a row are looking at rebuffing their own president and adding tens of billions of dollars to the Defense Department’s budget that the agency didn’t ask for.” • We have already quoted Churchill: “The Admiralty had demanded six ships; the economists offered four; and we finally compromised on eight.” There should really be something in Parkinson’s Law on this.
Democrats en Déshabillé
I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:
The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.
Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.
* * *
Pelosi (1), yesterday:
Nancy Pelosi has been silent on the Amazon, $AMZN, union vote, as reported by SFGate.
— unusual_whales (@unusual_whales) April 5, 2022
Pelosi (2), today:
Nearly half of Americans would join a union if given an opportunity. Workers are discovering the profound power of solidarity, from construction workers to brave Amazon employees. That is why the @HouseDemocrats twice passed the Richard L. Trumka PRO Act. pic.twitter.com/txPvGfG7sY
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) April 5, 2022
Translation: “That is why Democrats did not deliver the Richard L. Trumka PRO Act.” I mean, where they wearing kente cloth again?
“59 members of Congress have violated a law designed to stop insider trading and prevent conflicts-of-interest” [Business Insider]. “Congress passed the law a decade ago to combat insider trading and conflicts of interest among their own members and force lawmakers to be more transparent about their personal financial dealings. A key provision of the law mandates that lawmakers publicly — and quickly — disclose any stock trade made by themselves, a spouse, or a dependent child. But many members of Congress have not fully complied with the law. They offer excuses including ignorance of the law, clerical errors, and mistakes by an accountant.” • Because of course they do. In alpha order by last name, here they are:
Rep. Cindy Axne, a Democrat from Iowa
Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat from Illinois
Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat of Florida
Rep. Katherine Clark, a Democrat from Massachusetts
Rep. Dwight Evans, a Democrat from Pennsylvania
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California
Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democrat from New York
Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat from Arizona
Rep. Susie Lee, a Democrat of Nevada
Rep. Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat from California
Rep. Tom Malinowski, a Democrat from New Jersey
Rep. Kathy Manning, a Democrat from North Carolina
Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat of New Jersey
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from New York
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Colorado
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland
Del. Michael San Nicolas, a Democrat from Guam
Rep. Brad Schneider, a Democrat from Illinois
Rep. Kurt Schrader, a Democrat from Oregon
Rep. Kim Schrier, a Democrat from Washington
Rep. Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat from New Jersey
Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat from New York
Rep. Lori Trahan, a Democrat from Massachusetts
Rep. David Trone, a Democrat of Maryland
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Florida
Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat from Vermont
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island
Now, the Republicans:
Rep. Rick Allen, a Republican from Georgia
Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican from Indiana
Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican from Alabama
Rep. Michael Burgess, a Republican from Texas
Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican from Ohio
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Republican from Texas
Rep. Warren Davidson, a Republican from Ohio
Rep. Pat Fallon, a Republican from Texas
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, a Republican from Tennessee
Rep. Mike Garcia, a Republican from California
Rep. Lance Gooden, a Republican from Texas
Rep. Michael Guest, a Republican from Mississippi
Rep. Jim Hagedorn, a Republican from Minnesota
Rep. Diana Harshbarger, a Republican from Tennessee
Rep. Kevin Hern, a Republican from Oklahoma
Rep. Chris Jacobs, a Republican from New York
Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican from Pennsylvania
Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican from Pennsylvania
Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a Republican from Wyoming
Sen. Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas
Rep. Brian Mast, a Republican from Florida
Rep. Dan Meuser, a Republican from Pennsylvania
Rep. Dan Meuser, a Republican from Pennsylvania
Rep. Blake Moore, a Republican from Utah
Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky
Rep. August Pfluger, a Republican from Texas
Rep. August Pfluger, a Republican from Texas
Rep. John Rutherford, a Republican from Florida
Rep. Austin Scott, a Republican from Georgia
Rep. Pete Sessions, a Republican from Texas
Rep. Victoria Spartz, a Republican from Indiana
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a Republican from Alabama
Rep. Roger Williams, a Republican from Texas
Rep. Rob Wittman, a Republican from Virginia
“Garcetti’s Handling of LA Harassment Imperils His Job as India Envoy” [Bloomberg]. “President Joe Biden’s nomination of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as ambassador to India is in peril with some Democrats as well as Republicans raising questions about his handling of a sexual harassment case in his office…. Meanwhile, several Democrats, including Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Mark Kelly of Arizona, are expressing reservations. Their support would be key for Garcetti’s confirmation in the 50-50 Senate if Republicans oppose him. Kelly said Tuesday he’s ‘got some issues’ with Garcetti’s nomination, including but not limited to the mayor’s handling of claims against a top aide who was accused of sexually harassing a Los Angeles police officer on the mayor’s security detail…. The White House has continued to stand by the nomination of Garcetti, 51, who served as co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign.” • Oof. Sexually harassing a cop?
Readers, this is a bit scattered; I will have to read the Durham filing to get the timeline staight in my mind. Sorry! –lambert
“Durham releases former Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann’s text message, says he put ‘lie in writing'” [FOX]. “Special Counsel John Durham, in a filing late Monday, released what may prove to be a crucial piece of evidence in the case against former Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann—a text message he sent to the former FBI general counsel the eve of their September 2016 meeting stating ‘the same lie in writing’ that the information he would share would be ‘not on behalf of a client or company.’ In a filing late Monday, Durham motioned to admit evidence for the Sussmann trial—including a text message Sussmann sent to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker. Durham contends that Sussmann was, in fact, working for the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign at the time of the meeting…. ”The defendant’s billing records reflect that the defendant repeatedly billed the Clinton Campaign for his work on the Russian Bank-1 allegations,’ Durham wrote. ‘In compiling and disseminating these allegations, the defendant and Tech Executive-1 also had met and communicated with another law partner at Law Firm-1 who was then serving as General Counsel to the Clinton Campaign (‘Campaign Lawyer-1′).’ Sources familiar have told Fox News that ‘Campaign Lawyer-1’ is a reference to Marc Elias.” • Does make you wonder on what Clinton was basing tweets like this, which looks a lot like the Joffe information Sussman was peddling:
Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank. pic.twitter.com/8f8n9xMzUU
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 1, 2016
Yes, oppo is legal, but it’s not at all clear you get to plant oppo with the FBI while telling them its out of the goodness of your heart, while at the same time you’re billing for it at Perkins Coie (and mislabeling it as “legal advice and services“). This is from last week, but it’s important–
“Fight with Clinton campaign and DNC looms in Sussmann case” [Politico]. “Prosecutors on special counsel John Durham’s team handling a criminal false-statement case against a top lawyer for Democratic causes, Michael Sussmann, indicated on Thursday that they planned to challenge claims of attorney-client privilege raised by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign. The issue has lingered for years, with the Democratic groups claiming that the investigative firm that produced the dossier, Fusion GPS, did so as part of attorney-requested research related to potential litigation. ‘We have had conversations and have been unable to get comfort as to the grounding and basis of various privilege theories,’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew DeFilippis told the judge. ‘These issues are unavoidable and we’ve been working for quite some time to get to the bottom of them.'” • Democrat oppo and operations generally have been a rat’s nest of cut-outs and straws for as long as I can remember (and highly profitable for all the lawyers and operatives taking their cuts). It would be great if Durham shed some light on that system. I suppose if oppo is done by a lawyer, and oppo also has privilege, we’ve basically licensed the intelligence community to do anything and everything they do not already do, domestically. They would just need the right credentials.
“Beware the Eephus: Durham Lowers the Boom on Former Clinton Counsel Michael Sussmann” [Jonathan Turley]. “Notably, the filings state that ‘The defendant’s billing records reflect that the defendant repeatedly billed the Clinton Campaign for his work on the Russian Bank-1 allegations. In compiling and disseminating these allegations, the defendant and Tech Executive-1 also had met and communicated with another law partner at Law Firm-1 who was then serving as General Counsel to the Clinton Campaign (‘Campaign Lawyer-1′).’ ‘Campaign Lawyer-1’ is a reference to Marc Elias, Sussmann’s partner at Perkins Coie who is accused to concealing the same connections with the Steele Dossier during the campaign.” • Elias is also an election lawyer for the Democrats, which I suppose tells you everything you need to know about their efforts in that direction.
2020 Post Mortem
“Trump asks judge to recuse from racketeering suit against Hillary Clinton” [Politico]. “Trump lawyers Alina Habba and Peter Ticktin contend that Middlebrooks could be seen as biased because Bill Clinton chose him for the federal court bench in 1997. ‘There is no question that Judge’s [sic] Middlebrooks’ impartiality would be questioned by a disinterested observer, fully informed of the facts, due to Judge’s relationship with the Defendant, either, individually, or by the very nature of his appointment to the Federal Bench, by the Defendant’s husband,’ Habba and Ticktin wrote in a motion filed on Monday. ‘The most important issue is not simply that justice must be done, but also that justice must appear to be done. This could not be more important in a case like the above styled cause, where wrongs in regard to a presidential election are to be redressed.’ Motions to recuse based on the identity or party of the president who appointed a judge are rarely granted. In a largely two-party system, federal judges are virtually certain to have been appointed by the political rivals of a president or his political allies. The motion filed on Monday does not indicate whether Trump would seek recusal of a Trump-appointed judge from the case.”
Realignment and Legitimacy
Any remaining vestige of an anti-war liberal/left in the US degraded itself almost to the point of non-existence from 2016-2020, as it aligned with security state functionaries and neocons against Trump. Since the Ukraine war, this process of self-abolition is now truly complete
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) April 6, 2022
Tracey, sadly, is right.
That General’s chest is decorated to a North Korean level:
— The Hill (@thehill) April 6, 2022
And not a single one of them is from winning a war, or could be!
“‘F*ck Leftist Westsplaining!'” [The Nation]. “The Central and East European left’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine comes from people with diverse experiences and backgrounds. However, all of the writers offered examples of the Western left’s denial of East European agency (for example, suggesting that Ukraine must be a ‘buffer zone’). Many noted the Western left’s fixation on Ukraine’s far right; the far right is indeed a problem, but has less political power in Ukraine than in many other countries in Europe, they point out. No one accepted the assertion that Russia viewed ‘NATO encroachment’ as a security threat (though Artiukh noted Russia does perceive NATO as a political and cultural threat). Many in the East European left have felt obliged to point out that ‘NATO expansion’ only comes about when each country decides to apply for membership. And they emphasize that decision belongs to the citizens of those countries—not to former colonial powers.” • I’m not sure about this “Westsplaining” thing, since most of the tools used here fit comfortably in the Western woke discourse, including agency, and the replacement of realism with moralizing.
If you missed it, here last week’s post on my queasiiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.
A must-read thread:
So, by and large, those calling for the #UrgencyOfNormal have won the policy debate, convincing a nation in the midst of a period (Dec 1-Mar 31) where ~195,000 people died that dropping almost all mitigation efforts was the right thing to do. 1/ https://t.co/z2lMyTc8m7
— Gregg Gonsalves (@gregggonsalves) April 6, 2022
Case count by United States regions:
In the aggregate, cases are down. However, cases in the Northeast are up (reinforced by wastewater rapid riser, and now hospitalization data (albeit from a low baseline).
“‘Stealth’ Omicron Is Stealthy No More: What’s Known About the BA.2 Variant” [New York Times]. From March 18: “As the United States drops many of its own protection measures, BA.2 may be able to spread more easily from person to person. But there are a number of reasons to doubt that it will drive a large new spike of cases and hospitalizations.” Quoting the subheads: “Existing vaccines work against the BA.2 variant…. The BA.2 variant is vulnerable to antibodies made by the immune system after an earlier Omicron infection… BA.2 does not appear to be more severe than the previous version of Omicron…. Some authorized medications work against BA.2. Others don’t…. BA.2’s ‘stealth variant’ nickname is outdated….” • We shall see.
NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it.
Still going up, both in the aggregate and in the North and South Systems. Too soon for a Fauci line? I’d give it a week.
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.
From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:
Every so often I think of doing away with this chart, and then there’s another flare-up. Hello, Santa Barbara County in California! I remember using the metaphor of flying coals in a forest fire — many land, but sputter out; a few catch, and the first spreads. What I notice about this round of flare-up is that the “coals” are the size of multiple counties, not, as previously, single ones. FWIW! (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)
The previous release:
Continuing slow improvement as the map shifts from mostly red to mostly yellow (assuming the numbers aren’t jiggered). However, look at the Northeast, which remains stubbornly red.
Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):
Again, I don’t like the sudden effloresence of yellow and orange. I don’t care that the baseline is low. From the point of view of our hospital-centric health care system, green everywhere means the emergency is over (and to be fair, this is reinforced by case count and wastewater). However, community transmission is still pervasive, which means that long Covid, plus continuing vascular damage, are not over. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)
Just a reminder:
As with everything else, because the United States is not a serious country, our hospitalization data is bad. Here the baseilne is off:
Hospital trick: patients admitted with covid in 10-12 days become post-covid & no longer counted as hospitalized covid patients. ICU is full of post-covid patients that are here for 30, 40, 50 & more days. Not counted in the official stats.
— Dr. Natalia 💉😷 (@SolNataMD) January 24, 2022
Death rate (Our World in Data):
1,008,679. We did it. Break out the Victory Gin. An unfortunate upward blip. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. Even if the numbers are going down, they’re still democidally high.
There are no official statistics of note today.
The Bezzle: “Is Crypto Re-Creating the 2008 Financial Crisis?” [The Atlantic]. “[W]ith credit default swaps, the parallel is leverage. CDSs created a new, initially unlimited way to create leverage, which is another way of saying they used debt to acquire financial assets. In DeFi, you see similar dynamics, especially that tokens can be created out of thin air. Those tokens could then be used as collateral for loans that can then be used to acquire yet more assets. It’s somewhat striking, the parallel.” • Important!
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 51 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 6 at 1:26pm.
“LEAKED: NEW AMAZON WORKER CHAT APP WOULD BAN WORDS LIKE “UNION,” “RESTROOMS,” “PAY RAISE,” AND “PLANTATION”” [The Intercept]. “AMAZON WILL BLOCK and flag employee posts on a planned internal messaging app that contain keywords pertaining to labor unions, according to internal company documents reviewed by The Intercept. An automatic word monitor would also block a variety of terms that could represent potential critiques of Amazon’s working conditions… ‘Our teams are always thinking about new ways to help employees engage with each other,’ said Amazon spokesperson Barbara M. Agrait. ‘This particular program has not been approved yet and may change significantly or even never launch at all.'” • Such a great quote from the Amazon spokeshole. Commentary:
— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) April 4, 2022
News of the Wired
Crows do object permanance, apparently. For other living, growing things:
When my cat was a kitten, he picked a fight with a crow. Big mistake. Now crows stalks him everywhere. This should really be his confession.
— Fesshole 🧻 (@fesshole) April 6, 2022
Another fave account of mine….
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